I am in the process of writing about vulnerability, connection and shame. I got half way finished with my blog entry and I had to stop writing because it sparked these emotions that I was not ready to feel. I started to feel all panicky.
I didn’t realize it but I opened a door that I didn’t realize was still there. Honestly I think I tore the door right off the hinges and ever since then I have felt horrible.
In my therapy session this week I realized that I still believed that I wasn’t worthy of love, that some where inside I felt like I was a bad person. Worthless is a word that has surfaced since then.
My therapist asked me when I felt like I first started to feel this way and I really struggled to think when I started to believe this.
I certainly can think of events that reinforced this like the sexual abuse but that was when I was ten. My therapist believes it started earlier than that and I have to agree with her. My memories of early on are pretty slim. I have always felt like there was something that I was missing.
I use to believe that the sexual abuse and having a father like I did were punishments. Like God was punishing me for being bad. I wonder if I still believe this? I couldn’t understand why else these bad things would happen to someone like me.
The feelings that have surfaced this week have been extremely intense and painful. I have really struggled handling these feelings of worthlessness. My head is floating with phrases like “you are worthless”, “ugly”, “unlovable”, and so many other bad things.
I know during my elementary years I was picked on pretty frequently. I was called names like twinkie, fatso, etc. I can remember this one High School student by the name of Scott who made my life a living hell on the bus.
I also don’t have a lot of memories of my father during that time as well. The earliest memory I have of him is of my mother crying and screaming for us to get on the ground of the car, as my father was driving like a mad man angrily. I can still remember the fear in her voice. I probably was about five years old.
My therapist asked me about my father’s angry and at first I couldn’t recall anything else… It was like for a moment I forgot how much I use to fear this man, which I will talk about further in another blog entry on anger.
Now that the door is off I am able to look backwards and see why I have made the choices I have. I knew that I had issues with my self worth but I have never been able too look at it like this. I also thought I had gotten past all of that.
I know the sexual abuse did a number on my self worth but I know that wasn’t the only thing to make me believe I wasn’t worthy of love.
I know my relationship with my father also played a role in the way I feel about myself. Prior to coming out our relationship was rocky and after that it was even worse. There are things he said to me during that time I will never forget. These things seeped into my consciousness and I became them. When you are told you are going to hell for being gay over and over, eventually you start to take it on. Plus the fact that he also used my weight to belittle me certainly made it even more damaging. One thing he told me that I always wanted to lose weight and that I would… when I was dying alone in the hospital of AIDS. He added the alone part because the people I thought were my friends weren’t and wouldn’t be there for me in my time of need. I mean who says that to their son??? How do you not let something like this affect you??? No matter how hard you try to get it out of your head, it is always there… SEVENTEEN YEARS LATER!!!!!!!
Is it the simple fact of having a father who was never able to love me like the way I deserve the reason I feel unworthy of love? Like if my father doesn’t love me there has to be a reason and that reason being me???
As an adult each time I was hurt it only reinforced this false belief of mine that I wasn’t worthy. My struggle finding the man of my dreams certainly didn’t help me. I have always known I wanted to spend my life with someone. I never realized it would be so difficult to find someone to love me. I had these dreams of what my life would be and so far my life isn’t any of that.
For many years my self worth manifested itself in many different ways. My weight certainly has been one avenue I took. When you don’t care about yourself, you are willing to put up with a lot less.
One thing that just occurred to me is that I believe that I am worthy of giving love but not of getting it back. I have never been any good at taking care of myself. There was a point where I could take care of others but eventually even that became too much to handle.
One way that I comforted my feelings of being unworthy was through numbing. Which is a topic that recently came up in a video I watched by Brene Brown, as well as shame.
Being heavyset most of my life I have became accustomed to those who feel the need to belittle me because of my size. In the gay world I certainly have had my share of struggles with my size. The perpetual rejection in my dating life was another reminder that not only was I fat and ugly but unlovable as well.
When I started to realize that I could get validation that I was attractive by sleeping with other guys I found attractive I started to walk down a road that would lead me into more trouble. Which was fine and dandy until I couldn’t find anyone I was attracted to who wanted to have sex with me. Not only did I have those bad feelings but now I had something to reinforce it with.
I felt like something was better than nothing. So I continued to use sex as away to numb my feelings. Which only just reinforced what I learned from the sexual abuse, that I was just a sex object to men. Again no one wanted me for who I was inside. They just wanted me for sex. I would say half the time my sexual experiences weren’t even pleasurable. Honestly many of my one night stands ended like my sexual abuse, with me in the shower trying to clean off the filth. No matter how hard I scrubbed I could never get the dirty off of me.
You would think after a handful of these encounters I would learn my lesson but unfortunately it became a broken record… but unfortunately it became a broken record… but unfortunately it became a broken record… but unfortunately it became a broken record… but unfortunately it became a broken record… but unfortunately it became a broken record… but unfortunately it became a broken record… but unfortunately it became a broken record… but unfortunately it became a broken record…
As the years of rejection went on, I really started to grow my complex that I wasn’t worthy of love. Looking for sex only made it that more larger.
If no one wanted me for my heart then I was going to hide who I was and take what I deserved. I started to learn that many guys could look past my size when I was big and mean. I became this horrible mean monster who took what he wanted and didn’t care for those he stepped on, no I didn’t turn into Godzilla… but I did get involved in the BDSM world.
I thought if I couldn’t find a boyfriend in the regular world I would do so by becoming the person that many saw me as. I would use my weight as an advantage.
Sure it was all mutual but in the end it wasn’t making feel good. I was doing to these men what was done to me so many years ago. I became the aggressor, the dominate one. I became my abuser. I inflicted pain on others and each time I did so, I died a little inside because it wasn’t who I was.
What I found myself yearning for the most during most of my encounters was closeness, things like kissing and cuddling. Which was a very rare occurrence especially when I was the dominate one. I had closed up my heart and hid it away. To show it meant the guy running away. Showing love and affection was not apart the role I played.
Again it became another broken record… Again it became another broken record… Again it became another broken record…
I can remember very early on someone once told me that every gay guy goes through a period of promiscuity and I can remember thinking, “oh, not me!” It never dawned on me that it would happen to me, nor did I think it would be so difficult to find a partner. Granted I know all of these feelings played a part in it but still…
Again I found myself feeling shame related to my sexuality. I honestly I have always saw sex as being dirty. The last relationship I was in I found it impossible to combine sex and love. Once I fell in love with him, I found it difficult to touch, kiss or have sex with him.
Another portion of my promiscuity that I still am very shameful over is how I treated my health. I am still apprehensive in sharing, at the fear of being judged or looked down upon, but feel it is important for me to share my story with others as it may help someone out there.
I know exactly why I started having unprotected sex. There was this guy who I thought I was dating who didn’t tell me he had a STD until a month after we were having unprotected sex. I was in love and thought we were heading towards a relationship. I trusted him. He told me he was afraid that if he told me, I wouldn’t have wanted to have sex with him. I was in love and wanted to make it work so I forgave him… I saw the sex as making love. Then about a month later the real truth came out, that he was just interested in friendship and it was just sex to him.
It was the first time I felt the same level of use as an adult since the sexual abuse. I was devastated that not only did he put my health at risk but he used me sexually as well. He reinforced that all I was good for was sex, that was my self worth. The only thing that men wanted and the only thing I was good at. So if someone I loved put my life at risk, why even care?
I felt so low about myself that I didn’t care about the consequences of having unprotected sex. All I wanted and could see was getting the quick fix, the instant gratification. I became the person the various men in my life used me for.
After the quick fix wore off it would instantly send me in a downward spiral, especially if I didn’t use a condom. Shame and worthlessness were just a few of the things that would consume me in the hours afterwards. Sometimes the feels were so strong I would start to think about suicide as a way to cope with the pain. As soon as all of these feelings subsided I was back on the internet looking for my next quick fix. It was a vicious and compulsive cycle.
I didn’t see myself worthy of love, so I was willing to put up with less for myself. I thought that was all I deserved.
At first it was all pleasurable but then it got to a point where it wasn’t any longer but I still continued to look for it. During the height of my promiscuity I started to go see a therapist. It was the first time I really started to work on the sexual abuse. Through my time with her I started to live the life I had always dreamed of minus the husband. I had more friends that ever, a great job and a place of my own. It all ways too much for my insecurities to handle, so I packed up and ran far away. I didn’t believe I deserved all these wonderful things.
Since 2005, I have been running. I have tried to get that life back but have struggled miserably. The problem is I have been running from myself, and I always follow me wherever I go…
At some point when it came to the sex, I just started to wake up. I started to realize that it wasn’t me. I know the therapy had a huge part to play. As I started to heal, I started to see the real me. Who I am is not someone who is dominate, nor someone who hurts other people. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I finally was able to see what I was doing. I was taking back control of my abuse by using other men. Even though it was mutual, I was still using the person and it only reminded me of the sexual abuse. I am not my abuser…
Being a gay sexual abuse survivor has been very tough because love and sex gets so enter-tangled, so much that it becomes difficult to differentiate between the two. Hurt becomes love… and love becomes hurt. Pain becomes pleasurable. Pleasurable becomes pain. When the pain turns into pleasure, then comes the deep shame…
This became all too clear in my last relationship. As a survivor of sexual abuse it is common to get triggered by different things, many that are unrelated to sex. Often I get triggered and fall into a negative behavior cycle and I don’t become aware until afterwards. Sometimes the span has been days, while others its been a lot longer. Prior to my last relationship I was single for over ten years. I had started to believe I was going to grow old alone. Love was out of the cards for me.
When I met my ex I rushed into it because I thought I didn’t have a choice. After only five months of knowing each other, I asked him to move in and he did. The way I felt for him was pure… I didn’t realize it at the time an event early on in our relationship would send me into a downward spiral with my depression. Soon after this event we would break up and ended up living together for another year afterwards. During our time together it became very difficult for me to show any affection towards him. The thought of kissing him repulsed me. I knew it was related to the sexual abuse but at the time I didn’t know what had caused me to feel this way.
When we went our separate ways and I moved back to Michigan, I thought my depression would get better but it only worsened. I didn’t realize how codependent I was to him. I was willing to stay in an a very unhappy situation just because I didn’t think I could find anyone else.
Then I realized what went wrong in our relationship. Soon after he moved in we went over to mutual friends who were a couple as well. Previously the one guy (who was big like me) kept trying to get us in their hot tub. I thought it was strange but I didn’t really think anything of it. Well this time he asked again and this time I was very sore so I agreed. So we hopped into the hot tub…
Then he proceeds to grab my boyfriend and puts him on his lap, where they begin to make out right in front of me. One thing leads to another they end up having sex, while he tried to pass his boyfriend off on me… Mind you we were suppose to have a monogamous relationship, and we never talked about three ways etc…
Afterwards I stopped being their friend and our relationship was strained after that. My ex remained friends with this guy, who tried to break us up afterwards. It came out that this guy was trying to get my ex to be apart of a triad. His favorite name for me was ogre. My ex never once defended me, he let this guy make fun of me. About four months later we had officially broken up. I didn’t realize it was that night that did us in.
After that incident it became very difficult to have sex with him. The only way I could was to have three ways. Before we were a couple I was able to dominate him but once I feel in love I couldn’t do that any longer. Again I found myself getting back into something I didn’t want to. One thing led to another and I started to act out sexually but this time it wasn’t pleasurable at all.
My love for him was pure. I didn’t realize that night this guy took my love away. He gave it back to me dirty. Just like what my abuser did when I was ten. He took my innocence and when he was done he gave it back to me… broken…
I can remember sitting in the hot tub frozen in fear, and watching this guy touch the man I loved. I wanted to stop him but couldn’t move… I waited for my ex to stand up but he just joined in. I couldn’t protect the love… It was like I was watching getting molested all over again and I couldn’t stop it. All I could do was watch… I was paralyzed.
Again it was reinforcement that I wasn’t worthy of love. I was a worthless human being that only purpose was pleasure for me. I had to give them what they wanted, even if it meant hurting me.
Wow, that last statement was a powerful one… Had is a key word… A light bulb just went off in my head. All this time I mirrored being sexually abused in the sex I had with other men. The abuse taught me early on what sex and love was. I just didn’t realize that wasn’t the truth. I have a choice in the matter. I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to. I matter. My health matters!
I am so blessed and thankful that to this day I am HIV negative. I certainly know that something higher than me has been looking out for me. So many guys haven’t been so fortunate.
I am not going to lie, I still am ashamed at some of the things I have done but I realize that keeping it a secret only helps keep the shame locked up.
While I am no longer promiscuous, I still struggle with the urge to numb my feelings out in that way. Loneliness is a tough feeling to battle alone. I have to catch myself trying to numb out those feelings. I still do so with food but occasionally I will start to look for sex. I have to remind myself will this make me feel good? will this get me what I need?
I have come to realize that the connection I need and yearn for is the kind that isn’t related to sex in any way.
Part of the solution to feeling unworthy of love is not make choices that will make me feel less. Learning to overcome the need to numb out my feelings is going to be critical in my healing.
When I numb out the bad feelings, I am numbing out all the good ones as well.
As tough as it is to feel these feelings of worthlessness I have to in order to heal. I must remind myself I am not my feelings. I have lived this false life for many years, and I have accumulated many voices in the process. These are the voices that tell me I am a loser. They lie to me and make believe their lies are the truth.
I have to take back my life. I have let too many people take up rent in my brain. I have personalized and internalized their abuse, and eventually became their fears, pain and hurt. This is not who I am.
They saw my light as a weakness and the only way they could keep me was to trap my light surrounded by their fears and darkness. I must remember I am no longer trapped in those abusive situations!!!
The louder the voices, the harder I need to scream at them to go away. There is power in saying NO!!!!
This week the voices have been deafening loud. They have shaken me to my core. I will admit they have paralyzed me
a bit. I have to keep fighting these feelings of unworthiness. I can’t cower and cave in to them. I started to believe them but I have to stop, or it will drag me under.
Typing them out a loud is a step. So is continuing to process it in therapy.
Keeping all of these bad feelings buried deep within only hurts me. The pain has poisoned my veins and affected me to the core. Now that the door has been removed I can begin to heal and move on.
I just have to hold on, ride the storm out like my beautiful Mother did. I have to remind myself there is always sunshine behind the clouds. If I keep running from my demons, I will never be happy.
I have to do it for me and my Mama. She only wanted the best for me. She only saw the best in me.
Again I have to take it moment by moment. I have to constantly tell myself that I am worth love, care and happiness from others and more importantly myself!!!!
I find myself repeating this meaning quote from the movie The Help:
“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”
Though I usually say it in my own way… “You is Beautiful. You is Lovable. You is Strong. You is worthy”
Which reminds me of Stuart Smalley when he says “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.”
I have to remind myself on a daily basis of all of that. Eventually the negative voices will lessen and eventually be drowned out by the good.
I am STRONG. I wouldn’t have made it this long if I wasn’t. I need to stop listen to the naysayers and start listening to those who love and believe in me. There will always be someone against you. You just have to keep moving forward. Drive through, don’t stop! Certainly don’t listen! For as many that are against you, there are just as many by your side.
It is time for me to embrace my light, and step out of the darkness. Healing doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time. Like my therapist use to tell me you can’t attach a cocoon to a stick and whip it around, expecting the butterfly to fly out. It just doesn’t happen that way.
Rather than turn to negative ways of coping, it is important I reach out towards methods that are healthy. While the voices are louder than ever before, I feel the truth deep inside. The voice of reason is faint but still there… I have to keep listening to it…